Joe Mizzi is not a popular minister these days.
And it’s not because he did not find oil.
It’s because of a much simpler solution he has failed to come up with since he took over the responsibility for traffic and public transport under the guidance of his master Joseph Muscat.
Before the 2013 election, Joe Mizzi made a big fuss about buses and cars. He spoke roughly against Arriva and anything that was connected to them. He constantly criticised the then Nationalist government about the way it was handling traffic management.
And he made the gullible believe that he had a magic wand to solve all the problems we encounter, day after day, on our roads.
Today, nearly four years later, Joe Mizzi has failed miserably in the sectors he manages.
Traffic, as we all know, has become a nightmare. Just look at what people say on the social media to get an idea of what is going on. Trips that should take 10 minutes are taking one hour, maybe more. The frustration grows and this is having an effect on our productivity too. People are arriving late at work. We even had two Air Malta flights that were delayed because the pilots were caught up in traffic.
Joe Mizzi himself arrived late to an event, and he did so even when his journey was partly on a boat. It was not a surprise that he avoided taking questions by journalists.
But avoiding the issue will not make it go away.
Joe Mizzi is politically responsible for the chaos we have on our roads. His crusade against Arriva led the latter to walk away, and yet their substitutes have not done any better. People use their cars because public transport is a mess. If public transport was reliable and efficient, just as it is anywhere else in the developed world, then people will keep their cars in their garages and use public means. But the service offered by buses is not up to standard, and this is putting more cars on the road than there should be.
I, for one, often have to take my daughter to university or pick her up from there simply because she calls me from the bus-stop – where she would have been waiting for an hour with no bus turning up. That’s just one extra car on the road when it should not be there; and I wonder how many more there are because of similar situations. It must be thousands.
It is not the first time either that, while driving past a bus-stop, I notice a number of people waiting for the bus and then, when I drive by again 30 minutes or so later, the same people are still waiting, while others would have joined them.
If Joe Mizzi believes that by completing the Kappara Junction project – which was initiated by the PN – the traffic issue will be resolved, he is living on another planet. For one thing, drivers will spend less time on the road at Kappara, but will later inevitably get caught up at Santa Venera on one side or St Andrews on the other. Traffic is accumulating in each and every road, be it a major thoroughfare or not.
Added to this, the roads continue to be poorly constructed – in terms of the type of tarmac being used, but not only – and also very poorly lit. It is no wonder that serious traffic accidents take place almost every day. Not to mention the amount of pollution that is generated with so many cars switched on while being idle in traffic.
Joe Mizzi has failed.
His political legacy is a country of frustrated drivers.